“Remote Work” Trials and Tribulations

That title might give the impression that this blog post is going to be a “whole thing,” so let’s address that right now: It won’t be.

I’m here because I remembered this blog exists. I’m avoiding “grading” right now (my least favorite part of teaching) and was poking around other areas of my online course site. A student had shared a color contrast resource in a totally optional discussion topic (and I started to write a blog post about that because I get way too excited when students do something that isn’t just “for a grade”) and so naturally, I ran this here bloggy blog against a color contrast checker thing and it passed. Yay.

But back to the blog.

I’ve been working from my mom’s place in Pennsylvania since June 14th, and I return back to Colorado June 28th. Since my job is “online,” I can technically work from anywhere, and many of my colleagues do that. Some travel around in their cars, others in camper vans, others split their time across a few “homes.”

a camper van parked by the beach during sunset, with the ocean in the background
#VanLife. Photo by Matthew DeVries on Pexels.com

Just because we can work from anywhere (with an internet connection) in principle, though, doesn’t mean we can do it…well. I miss my wide-screen 34″ (I think) monitor. I miss my standing desk. When I’m on Zoom calls here, I am sitting on a chair in the living room, with my laptop precariously perched on a dining tray, precariously perched on a basket, precariously perched on an ottoman…all so that I can ethernet-connect to slow Wi-Fi and place my laptop in a space where folks don’t need to talk “up my nose.” That’s a lot of precariously perching, I know. I’ve spilled beverages several times.

I’ve also ruined a pan (by thinking I can multitask “send an email” while getting ready to pan-fry onions…nope, pan-fried a rubber spatula instead). I’ve burned toast twice (okay, thrice, but I ate that last one out of frustration/spite).

two pieces of very burnt toast on a white plate
Burned (or burnt?) toast. Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

So, I can work from anywhere but I’m glad that I typically don’t. And there are probably some reasonable, easy-ish adjustments I could make to suit my environmental constraints, like:

  • Use a physical notebook to jot down priorities, just like I do back at home. For some reason I’ve abandoned that strategy here, and my days have been very meandering as a result.
  • Get a longer ethernet cable so I can sit at a desk/table.
  • Take actual breaks during the day (Cheyenne really helps with that…Zoe struggles a bit, so our breaks are short).

I could make these adjustments, but I’ve only got one more work day planned. I enjoyed working at a cafe today (attached to a grocery store), and I get to expense snacks for the “free Wi-Fi” there, so I fully intend on doing that again tomorrow.

It’s also nice not to try to make every workday (or even work week-and-a-half) as “productive as normal,” though, because there is no normal for me anyway…and I’m a big believer in just showing up as who we are at that moment once in a while. I still got a lot of value and insights from the past work days. I’ve had good conversations that need to “jiggle around” in my head a little bit before I decide what to do with certain pieces of information that are potentially useful/meaningful for work.

Okay, this blog post is becoming a “whole thing” and I said it wouldn’t. So let’s end on that note, and give a quick test of who might be reading this thing apart from my 1-2 friends.

What do you do to “adjust your workspace” in new or unusual (unusual because they are “not usual,” not like…”under the sea” unusual) environment?

What’s the weirdest place/way in which you’ve worked?

Do you ever let yourself have “not as productive” days or week, or am I causing unnecessary stress for myself by having this weird “bar of productivity” that I somehow try to meet and yet almost never do? (That’s not a binary question although did come out that way).

Answer one, all, or none. Thank you and goodnight.

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